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European Pharmaceutical Contractor

Editor's Letter

Traditionally, the drug industry has been immune to the vagaries of international stock market fluctuations. As I write this letter this immunity is beginning to be removed with 'scandals' depressing share values in both medium-sized companies such as Galen and Elan as well as the 'bellweather' giants such as Merck. That tradition should be usurped in this way is not good news for the CRO industry, any more than it is good news for the companies' shareholders. Pharma companies have always been conservative, even if their science was innovative. Stock price uncertainty will surely breed more conservatism and a reluctance to conduct research out-of-house, lest the company lose control. In just the same way as mega mergers put projects on hold or at risk, so the falling stock prices will tend to have the same effect.


But mega mergers of the type just announced between Pfizer and Pharmacia may not be the way to go. Productivity and efficiency no longer seem to be necessarily related to size, big organisations may become inefficient, if not impossible, to manage. This theme is developed by John Morris of KPMG who believes that there is likely to be a slow down in M&A activity in the near future.


However, M&A is seen as a way of achieving the holy grail of global reach not only in development but also in sales. Ben Coppin at Envisional discusses combined Internet sales and promotion of prescription products as a globalisation route. Although, as he points out, this may only be an acceptable practice if the Internet is somewhat regulated - how this is to be done will remain a challenge.


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By Dr Graham Hughes
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Dr Graham Hughes
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